/ Society /
(Lots of K. categories: cosmology, evolution, semantics … theology, social epistemology …)
I’ve been quoting it ever since I first read it (1958ish):
|But love has pitched his mansion
In the place of excrement.
Nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.
Blabbing about movies I made a vulgar comment on the narrow edge we balance (or fail to balance) between attraction and repulsion. The girl has a round bottom, the boy takes notice. The boy gets close, he smells a reek, the boy flees; but keeps coming back: until the man would burrow into the latrine to get at more of that roundness.
Paradox is Real
I remember the girl across the street, Gene, asking me what “69” meant. (She didn’t mean the number!) I ran her in verbal circles, knowing only a clanky cartoon of the answer myself — what can kids know about puberty? Nevertheless I got more and more specifically graphic, a facsimile of my cartoon began to dawn on Gene. Suddenly her face froze in horror. She backed away from me.
Not that many years later I was an usher at Gene’s wedding. She married a young preacher: a very liberal young preacher. I chauffeured them to the reception. They wanted to get there right away, get it over with, get away: get into that roundness, all those repellant things we can’t be removed from far or for long.
(I explained that we had to let the guests arrive ahead of them.)
Puberty doesn’t turn on like a light switch, but it goes pretty quick.
I remember my helpless paroxysms of denial when a babysitter, a matron, elderly by my scant pint standards, asked me if I liked girls. “Noooooo,” I assured her. “You will,” she returned with smug adult authority. “Noooooo.” I screeched, I cried.
Same idiot a decade or two later, I scoff at my father-in-law’s second wife, childless, when she testifies that she’s just as glad she’s childless: she doesn’t like children: as though that meant that she wouldn’t like her own children, or fight Satan naked for advantage to one of them.
This woman was a professional economist, had an important position in the World Bank, was married to one of the world’s most celebrated economists, a kingpin in the World Bank (and the International Monetary Fund), and I pitied her naivety: until you have your own kid you don’t know what you like and don’t like.
The child who became pk swore he would never like girls! Doctor Gloria Fleming, wife to Doctor Marcus Fleming, swore she was indifferent to motherhood.
Six years old I look at Elizabeth Taylor on the screen. Oooo: pretty. Fourteen years old: Ivanhoe, Rebecca: Oooo: pretty.
Did I know that I, and most guys some years past puberty, would want to dive on the muff? Never mind the reek, there is no reek. The hell with what might be nearby, that’s pussy, man.
Why do you close your eyes when you make love? So you won’t notice that your eye ball is one millimeter from her ass hole!
The boy sees the girl: Ooo, round.
The boy gets close to the girl: What’s that funny smell?
The boy is repelled, then addicted: it no longer matters what her hygiene is like.
Why is the hero not afraid of death? Is it his inexperience? Or does he know something the rest of us don’t?
Listen to the recruits in the barracks bragging about how brave they are: why don’t we just pass out the medals then and there? The jock sounds utterly confident that he will be as brave as he says. How can it be that the quiet kid who isn’t bragging at all is the one who turns out to be Audie Murphy?
Listen to the politicians blithely promise how their soldiers will behave once we occupy Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan … Buddy, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Hollywood tells us how we’ll behave on Pandora. Uh, has anyone actually set foot on Pandora? Has even so much as a human avatar? (Has a divine avatar?)
I’ve met guys who says they’ve been in heaven. I know guys who say there is no heaven. I’ve said and written lots on what visiting heaven means to me, what I’ve learned from it.
The kid, the cop, the judge interrupts me in absolute confidence.
Lots of us know what puberty is. Lots of those living have experienced it, survived it, are no longer quite so naive. Lots of us know parenthood, and how much credence to give non-parents. But how well do we know puberty1? or parenthood2?
Or kleptocracy3 …
What comedy could be grander than to turn on the TV, and hear these popes, and these preachers, and to see, clear as day: God hasn’t spoken to any of them!
(No, no, no: I mean: God has! (Even Yeats has.) But they weren’t listening.)
My recent movie blab also commented on the sheriff in The Gift. Cate Blanchett’s clairvoyant is supposedly being interviewed by a prosecutor. The lawyer asks her a question, the sheriff interjects a sarcasm. Theology, politics, facts … nothing can be discussed when the stupidest factions of the culture have the authority to prevent the most basic scenarios from being imagined. Orthodox ignorance may speak, all else must be silent.
Cate’s esp may be fraud, may be delusion, may be a mix; still: the sheriff’s aggressive skepticism to all not familiarly orthodox, is exactly the treatment received by Jesus! and Galileo! and pk …
One thing about Liz: for folk of my generation, and a bit older: we watched her grow up! She’s family!
There are other actresses who benefit from a similarly vintage relationship with the culture. Sure Scarlett Johansson is pretty, buxom, can do comedy … But it’s having watched her from girlhood, through puberty, that renders her dynamite the more effective. And, like Liz, she related well to horses!
2013 10 24 Speaking of movies, I’m just watching the DVD of Atonement, in the wake of reading the novel. A very smart, verbally gifted thirteen years old sees, reads, hears things she can’t possibly understand. Neither can she imagine that she doesn’t understand them. Boy, does she cause trouble.
Now, think hard: imagine: however wonderfully mature we are in area x: experienced, wise; we’re the ignorant virgin in uncountable other possible maturities.
What is it that I don’t know that I don’t know that I don’t know?
I don’t know.